The lengths you have to take to reach this location are worth the story just as much as the place itself. Millpu has been kept somewhat of a secret over the years and as a result, there is no clear way of getting there unless you know someone who has already been - at least that was our experience during our visit in 2019. We found out about this river shortly after our arrival to Peru and the planning was very last minute, making it all the more interesting.
We had been working our way down the western section of the country when we found ourselves at somewhat of a crossroads in the oasis just outside of Ica. Not wanting to make the direct trip by bus to Cusco we decided to see if we could find something in between to break up the long trip. After some research a few well placed DMs on Instagram we found someone that knew how to get there and was also willing to help us on the journey. We booked the bus that night, leaving the small town of Ica for another small town in the middle of nowhere: Ayacucho.
It was a long, tiring ride up into the mountains but we made it in early enough to catch our next leg of the journey. We had a private car arranged by a friend to pick us up in Ayacucho and drive us out to the river, a ride quoted to be two hours. It took about 3.5 hours to get to our destination and we were absolutely exhausted and starving at this point. We hadn’t had a full meal in over a day now and no matter how hard we try we both have issues sleeping on mountain bound bus rides. This car ride was far more bumpy than the bus ride so we just had to except our fate and carry onward. The scenery on the drive, however, was spectacular. It was a beautiful introduction to where we were going.
Places like this always make us wonder how anyone ever found them. Millpu is a small, locals-only mountain village with nothing around it besides other villages. The closest city is seemingly Ayacucho but to be honest we have no idea where the road to Millpu goes if you continue to follow it. When we parked we were greeted by some friendly locals, the owners of the land around the river, and we were give some fruit and water. We took a moment to stretch our legs and then we started the short hike to the river. It was extremely easy, primarily flat and even ground until the very end when we had to go uphill for a little ways to reach the viewpoint for the river. Looking down on it made the entire trip completely worth it.
This river is truthfully like nothing you have ever seen before. It is absolutely gorgeous… watching the crystal clear, blue water cascade down the bright white, tiered falls was breathtaking. From the top of the viewing area there is a small, steep pathway that heads down to the water’s edge, an area that was currently off limits to visitors as the locals are hoping to keep people from entering the water and potentially damaging the location. We spoke with a local women there about the situation and she agreed to accompany us down to the river so that we could take a few photos and even allowed us to walk out on to one of the tiers, provided that we didn’t go into the water. It was such a surprise that she was willing to let us do this and we were so incredibly happy that, despite the chilly temperatures, we changed into our suits and set up for a quick photo shoot.
The water was absolutely freezing! We couldn’t believe people had previously submerged themselves in the water but, then again, as is usual with us we were there very early in the morning and the area didn’t even have sun on it yet when we first arrived. We were able to hang out at the river for a couple hours, taking photos and flying the drone, before we had to head back to where we parked. The locals had prepared an amazing local meal for us and we finally found a moment to relax and eat. We both slept the entire way back to Ayacucho.
We had just enough time in Ayacucho to get some dinner and then we were back on a bus to head out for Cusco. This was the craziest location that we have ever visited in this short of a time frame. Everest was insane… yes… but that was a two week excursion and everyone knows about it. This was somehow all put together in less than a day and then executed in the same amount of time. Visiting Millpu is no easy endeavor but it is entirely worth it. If you ever find yourself in Cusco or Ica you should definitely take the time visit this place. You can certainly stay a couple days in Ayacucho if you have the time and spread the trip out but if you are like us, constantly on the move, you will have a very similar experience.
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